The ASUSF Senate meeting on March 1 drew a large crowd, and many members of the audience expressed their support of a resolution that USF’s Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) presented to the Senate. Members of MEChA along with ASUSF’s Senior Class Representative, Jonathan Munoz, submitted a resolution to implement a scholarship fund at USF to support undocumented students.
This resolution proposes that $4.00 from each student’s tuition, be reallocated into a scholarship fund, each academic year. Munoz emphasized that this resolution does not call for an increase in tuition, but would simply be reallocating $4.00 of tuition towards the fund. This fund would help undergraduate undocumented students who demonstrate financial need, but don’t qualify for federal financial aid. MEChA members and Munoz discussed this resolution so that the Senate can decide whether or not to include the resolution in the spring 2016 student election ballot for undergraduate students to vote on.
“If it is approved to be on the ballot, then the student population would then vote either in favor or against the measure,” explained Munoz.
If the students then vote in approval of the fund, “we would then present to the board and say, ‘hey, the student body approved this measure, now make it happen.’ We would have to then sit down with the budget person(s) and talk about where we could pull this money from,” he said. Munoz noted that this last step of the process will be the most difficult.
During the meeting, Senate only listened to presentations regarding the resolution. At next Tuesday’s Senate meeting, the senators will vote on whether they’ll include MEChA’s resolution to this spring’s election ballot.
Miriam Uribe, Vice President of MEChA, urged ASUSF to allow the scholarship fund resolution to be included on the student ballot.“We have to note that there is a unique struggle that goes with being undocumented. It’s $4.00 out of our tuition, that’s less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks down the street, and that makes a lot of difference,” said Uribe. “Now is your chance to be on the right side of history,” she told the Senate.
When the meeting began, various undergraduate and graduate students of all ages and from different organizations briefly spoke and expressed their support of this resolution. Representatives from some of USF’s cultural clubs, such as Latinas Unidas, as well as employees from the undergraduate Office of Admission, and various alumni, spoke and supported the resolution.
Sarah Toutant, President of USF’s Black Student Union, explained why she and BSU are in favor of MEChA’s resolution.“We completely understand how it feels to be a marginalized community, thus we stand in solidarity with all undocumented students at the University of San Francisco, and support this resolution,” said Toutant.
Munoz read the entire resolution to the Senate, which outlined the specifics of the proposed scholarship fund.“It is important to recognize that many of these students who identify as undocumented at any private or public university, many of them, their parents brought them here when they were really young and they didn’t have a say in coming here,” said Munoz. “So it’s really opening opportunities for them to obtain a higher education and better their lives,” he added.
Aside from MEChA’s presentation, the senate also briefly discussed the Special Election results. Going into the Special Election the Senate aimed for 25% voter participation, and they surpassed that goal, reaching 27% turnout, according to ASUSF President Larry Figueroa. In summary of the election results, Figueroa explained that there was a 95% approval for restructuring Senate membership, which passed. However, the proposed student activity fee increase was not approved since it only garnered 60% approval, but needed at least 66% voter approval to pass.
Figueroa along with Vice President of Business Administration, Patricia Kealy, opened up a discussion with Senate members to talk about the student activity fee rejection, Kealy explained that the student activity fee increase also came up on last year’s ballot, and was rejected last year too. Kealy said that they are now deliberating whether or not to bring the student activity fee increase onto this spring’s election ballot. She also explained that the last student activity fee increase to pass, occurred about three years ago.
Some Senate members gave suggestions of possibly renaming or rephrasing the fee so that students better understand it. Others explained that many students are unaware of what the student activity fee increase really means, and how it aims to help student organizations.
Figueroa gave his input and suggested that Senate take a step back and analyze the results that the students have put forward.
“Although we see the need for the increase, it’s also important to honor the elections, it was something that the students disapproved twice,” he said. Figueroa suggested taking this into consideration, and to try to figure out what will work for everyone, moving forward.